Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The goals are, there are no goals

Since late September I’ve been harbouring a dirty secret. Whisper it quietly, but I’ve been working in a part time job. A real one. In an office, that pays and everything. And it has nothing to do with screenwriting, film, television, or anything industry related.

Y’see I’ve always been lucky. My wife, and my parents before that, have always supported my (somewhat ludicrous) career choice. They’ve never once pressured me to get a ‘real job.’ So I haven’t had to get one for years, going back to before my MA. And I realise I am privileged in this respect, as most people do indeed have a ‘day job’ and then write in the evenings.

I was emailing with a friend not long ago (no one talks any more do they?) This person was a bit down. I can’t remember why now; another rejection, another let down, we all know the feeling. And they asked how long can we keep doing this? I replied that we just have to keep going, for as long as we want to, as long as we can, and as long as we still have food on the table and a roof over our heads.

And there comes a point, probably around the time when you are literally standing in the supermarket debating whether you should buy one carton of juice or two, that you realise that this cannot go on. You may have signed up for this, but your family didn’t. Supporting you shouldn’t also mean suffering the consequences if you can help it. So I got a part time job. Fairly easily as it happens, with a big Jewish charity that does amazing work for the community. It fell in my lap quite by chance, although I don’t believe in chance. It was supposed to be a temporary thing, first lasting 3 weeks, then 5, then to the end of the year, and then, finally, permanent maternity cover for the whole of 2010.

So the challenge for me this year, and I dare say a lot of people, is to work everyday (albeit part time, which for me, physically, is like full time) and then work as hard as I can writing in the evening. That’s it. No get an agent, no get an episode of Eastenders, no get more film work. Because Piers is absolutely spot on. We don’t run the world. I was extremely close to getting an agent in 2009, after some rejections, only to have it fall apart at the eleventh hour through no real fault of anyone involved. And then I had an original feature optioned out of nowhere.

The only goals you can set are ones you can control yourself. So okay, if you insist, my goals for 2010 are to work as hard as I can doing the thing that I love, whilst at the same time working as hard as I can for a really important organisation, that also helps me to help my wife support us. Other than that, live the right way, be nice to people, do mitzvot, and be a good husband.

If I’ve done that by this time next year, it would’ve been a good year. Anything else, well, that’s not up to me.


Anonymous said...

Here here on writing from your passion - something that I plan to do more of this year. I think part of it is actually acknowledging that you have something unique to offer other than regulating yourself to being nothing but just another work-a-day writer ... not that there is anything wrong with that!

Jez Freedman said...

I should probably clarify that it's not that I don't want or wouldn't welcome those thing like an agent or an episode of Eastenders! They just ultimately depend on others and circumstance.

Anyway, belated welcome to London Brett. Hope this year proves to be better than last!

Antonia said...

Wonderful goals to aspire to!

The Kid In The Front Row said...

Well done man. It sucks that we, as creative people, often have to work in the most uncreative of environments, but it's life - and it's a new experience.. something that will provide you with a lot of creative material. So allow it to be a part of the process, making your creativity more well-rounded, rather than just being a shit job you have to go to.

Keep at it, keep writing, have a wonderful year!!

Jez Freedman said...

thanks antonia, just gotta do them now.

our kid, it's funny but until you work in a big office, you realise that ricky gervais is not quite the genius you thought he was!

Sofluid said...

Although I get annoyed by my day job taking time away from writing, I also find it a great source of inspiration. My job is both interesting (when I'm working on the website) and mundane (when I'm picking and packing stock) but that leaves room for a lot of thinking... I get very inspired and "fired up" for my writing during the day job. Helps me make the most of my free time, because I know that I won't be able to write when at work. Almost like invisible deadlines keeping me motivated...

The new job sounds wonderful! Best of luck with it :)

Jez Freedman said...

It's ok. Mostly database work that does allow for a lot of thinking time! But I like the people I work with and the organisation does really good work. And you're right. I've definitely noticed a real eagerness to get back to my computer in the evenings as soon as possible!

Antonia said...

Sofluid and Jez, I have to agree that doing something other than writing definitely helps you appreciate your writing time more.

As you say, Jez, it fires you up in the evenings, or day-time if you have an evening job. :-) Those precious hours for writing, eh?